Former deputy commissioner discusses Ky. school safety measures following Texas shooting
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After Tuesday’s deadly school shooting in Texas, families across the country are wondering how safe their own schools are.
WAVE News took a closer look at how schools in our community, and across Kentucky, focus on safety.
Two teens were killed at Marshall County High School when a fellow student opened fire in 2018. Alex Payne was there in the aftermath. He was the Deputy Commissioner of the Kentucky State Police at the time.
Out of that tragedy, Payne and others came up with the School Safety and Resiliency Act.
“What we want to do is make it difficult for things like you saw today in Texas to happen,” Payne said. “As difficult as we possibly can.”
The law was passed in 2019. Since then, schools have been graded yearly on several factors.
They include if the school has a safety plan for shootings, if there are locking doors and cameras, and even the time guidance counselors get to spend with students talking about their mental health.
If someone wants to see the results of the school safety assessment, they will not be able to.
“We wanted to keep this information fairly secret, because you don’t want it coming out, like, for example, on the media about which schools are poor, because bad guys watch the news too,” Payne said.
That doesn’t mean it’s just sitting in a stack of paper somewhere collecting dust.
“It gets to the right people,” Payne said. “There is a board set up, the Kentucky Center for School Safety gets it, the legislators, they get it, definitely a lot of people become aware of who is and isn’t doing what they need to do.”
Schools are motivated because failing a safety assessment could lead to some funding being cut.
Payne points to one specific item that he said makes a big difference when someone comes to campus looking for violence. That’s School Resource Officers.
“If you were planning and trying to defend against something like this happening here tomorrow, then you would want individuals in your facility that were trained to take a fight to someone who really came there not looking for one,” Payne said.
It’s also now law that school districts must have an SRO on each campus across Kentucky starting this fall. Schools that can’t afford them are supposed to work with the state school security marshall to fill the gaps.
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